"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Making do with what you have {backyard fun}

When we bought our house almost 7 years ago, we knew it was the perfect house for us. If there was one thing that we didn't like, it was our backyard - or lack thereof, I should say. We wanted a bunch of kids and wanted them to have plenty of space to run around. Unfortunately, expanding space is one thing you can't do to a house. Walls can be painted, bathrooms can be updated, floors can be replaced, etc. Getting a bigger yard? Not possible. (Although we did have hope we could one day buy the lot to the right of us and the lot behind us - neither one worked out.)
The backyard when we looked at the house for the first time...our lot ends at the end of our driveway (on both the back end and the right) and right before our neighbor's shed on the left. Not much to work with...
 From the opposite corner, when we first looked at the house!

Once we learned we were having our third boy and the surrounding lots started building new houses, we decided we could either a) complain about our lack of a backyard, b) move to a house with a bigger yard, or c) make do with what we have.

We chose the latter! And thankfully, God really helped us out by putting generous people in our lives. Many things were given to us for free, we found good deals on other things, and 2 of our neighbors put up fences first, which saved us a lot of money.

 First, we removed a bunch of brick, leaving only one square of it, and leveled the flood-prone areas with (free!) dirt. Like a whole truckload! (Back when I was pregnant with Aaron)
Then Logan made a play area for the swingset his parents gave the boys last year. The timbers were on sale and we got the weed barrier and mulch for free. Logan's 9 years of landscaping experience really paid off in more ways than one...

Then (over a year later) the fence went up! I found a sale for the fence boards, which saved us a good bit.

I wanted a fence put up before Aaron was born, but that didn't happen. Procrastination paid off though, because our neighbors behind us put up a fence, then our neighbors to the right put up a fence, and all we needed was to finish the fence on the left side. I told Logan in the spring that I wanted the fence done before the boys' birthday party in June! He listened. 😁

We owe our neighbor a heck of a lot, because he helped with everything. Honestly, I don't know how we would have done it without him. He even designed the gate for the fence as well as the long rolling gate over the driveway. (I highly recommend living by an older retired couple. They're the best kind of neighbor!) And in case you're curious, we decided to go with a shorter fence - even though our neighbors have tall fences - because it saved a lot of money. Plus we like our neighbors!

We weren't sure that grass could grow in the backyard because of all the shade from the trees, but we were given some sod (for free!!) and decided to see what would happen. It started off yellowish like this...

...but we watered a lot and all was fine! It's obvious where we didn't put sod, so we want to try and finish the yard eventually (hoping for some more free sod, ha). And of course whenever we're able to save up some extra money, we would love to add some more furniture and landscaping and stuff like that. Slowly but surely!

Other details that were done: gravel and edging in front of the side gate, little brick area by the back garage door (there wasn't a step or anything before), stepping stones from driveway to said brick area, sandbox in the play area.

Bricks were free from our neighbor! Stepping stones were cheap.

Gravel was free from our neighbor! Edging was cheap.

Sand was free from our neighbor!

Other details we still need to do: stepping stones or more gravel from the garage door to the side gate (on the other side of the brick area, basically), cutting off the corner of the play area so we can push a lawnmower or wheelbarrow through the side gate, put sod on the rest of the yard, drill the latch and bolt for the driveway gate.

Some progress pictures:

And now for a dramatic before and after....(sorry not sorry I made you wait til the end)
Before we bought the house
Over 2 years ago

If anybody has any ideas on what to put in those planters along the house - preferably things I cannot kill - pleeeease tell me. I've considered herbs but I'm pretty terrible about watering things...

It took years to realize we could make our backyard work for us, but I'm so glad it finally came together. What I thought was a tiny backyard ended up being the perfect space for our boys! It's shaded for much of the day, it's closed in now, and we can access it from our garage or our side door (along the driveway). Bonus is that now our dog gets to run around too (no more hooking her to a chain that might break!).

Okay, I don't know how to end this so I'm going to share the before and after again (BECAUSE I CAN):

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